North Jersey News Roundup for June 18, 2020

State officials gave an overview of what higher learning institutions will need to do to open this summer and fall in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. While mostly speaking in general terms, Higher Education Secretary Zakiya Smith Ellis said most institutions will likely reopen with some hybrid version of in-person and online learning, allowing students and faculty with elevated health risks to learn and teach remotely.

A state Superior Court judge issued an injunction against Wayne on June 17 to stop two high school graduation ceremonies. The ruling prevents the township from having events where more than 100 people are in attendance. It marked the second time in less than a week that a court had to step in to enforce an executive order by Gov. Phil Murphy. The Record

The state’s treasury department released an accounting of the nearly $300 million spent on COVID-19-related supplies and services since the pandemic first hit New Jersey on March 4. A spreadsheet supplied by shows about 3,700 line items for COVID purchases, including nearly $96 million for personal protective equipment ordered from three companies and more than $1 million for a refrigerated warehouse as a temporary morgue. The Daily Record

Residents whose votes are tentatively rejected due to signature issues in the upcoming July 7 primary will get the opportunity to fix their ballots after an agreement was reached in a federal lawsuit. Under the agreement, county boards of elections will have to send cure letters to voters within 24 hours after the decision has been made to temporarily reject their ballots. Cure letters will tell voters they can fix any signature impairment on their ballots by completing a form and returning it to their respective Board of Elections by July 23.

U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled proposed changes to police procedures and accountability in response to a Democratic proposal lead by Sen. Cory Booker legislation released last week. The GOP proposal includes an enhanced use-of-force database, restrictions on chokeholds and new commissions to study law enforcement and race. The New York Times

The New Jersey chapter of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives was not consulted on updated policies for police reform being proposed by state officials. The president of the New Jersey chapter said he was completely unaware that new directives announced by the state’s Attorney General were being released until he saw it on the news.

Wyckoff police are looking for the person responsible for a bias crime against a Chinese restaurant. The New Gourmet Garden was spray-painted with the words “coronavirus” on the doors and windows as well as “Go home to China” on the sidewalk outside. Police said those responsible will face bias intimidation and criminal mischief charges. News12 New Jersey

Juneteenth has been declared an official holiday in Jersey City. The day commemorating the end of slavery in the U.S. will now be a formal paid holiday for the municipal workforce along with city offices being closed every year on June 19. The Jersey Journal

The Communications Workers of America, New Jersey told its members they are negotiating with Gov. Phil Murphy in an attempt to avoid layoffs. The unions stated they have an agreement that includes 10 days of furloughs and an 18-month deferral of the across the board raises.

Applications for unemployment benefits have decreased substantially since an early spring peak amid signs the labor market and broader economy are recovering from the coronavirus pandemic. The number of Americans receiving ongoing unemployment benefits has plateaued near 20 million in recent weeks and is down from a peak of nearly 25 million in early May, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. The leveling of those on unemployment rolls suggests new layoffs are largely being offset by hiring and recalling of workers. The Wall Street Journal

And finally…Researchers at Rutgers University are attempting to see if the Garden State is fertile enough to grow foods familiar to non-white and immigrant populations.

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